February 28, 2013

Alden's birth story

Even though, right now, the thought of remembering every minute of my labor seems like a silly idea (I mean, the pain is still a little fresh. haha), I know that years down the road I will appreciate the fact that I wrote down my experience. So here goes... warning: it's long.

I had been having contractions for a couple hours pretty much every morning for the week leading up to Alden's arrival but none of those episodes turned into real labor. So I worked the whole week and spent time at home getting things ready just in case we ended up at the hospital earlier than expected. We went to the midwife on Friday, February 1st, at 39 weeks on the dot, and I was about 2 cm dilated and 80% effaced. Since we knew that I had been at 1 cm and 60% effaced a couple weeks prior, it was nice to know that all the contractions I had been having were getting my cervix ready and that once labor started, the process would most likely go smoothly. Our midwife said that it was perfect the way it was working because you'd rather efface before you started really dilating- because then when you do start dilating during labor, most of the work has already been done on your cervix and you can progress faster. We left that appointment still thinking that we had another week to go and were trying not to get caught up in the "numbers". I wanted to let my body go through the process on its own time and to allow myself the freedom to let it happen without any expectations or stress.

Saturday, the 2nd, we cleaned the house, ran some errands, got the car washed and vacuumed out the interior and relaxed on the couch while we caught up on our DVR'd TV shows. I had been feeling great all day and had a TON of extra energy. All I wanted to do was clean and organize- now I know that I'm one of those women who gets a surge of energy the couple of days before she goes into labor :) I finished a painting for Alden's room and we relaxed with the dogs. I went to bed feeling pretty good and was looking forward to sleeping in on Sunday.


at about 3:30 a.m. Sunday morning I woke up to use the bathroom and noticed some bloody discharge. I knew that passing small amounts of blood and mucus within a week of your due date was completely normal (it's called the bloody show and some women get it hours before labor begins, some get it after labor has already started and others get it as far as 2 weeks before labor starts. Others don't ever see it at all.), so I wasn't worried. I woke Nick up to tell him what was going on, we decided to wait and see what happened and we went back to sleep. I woke up to go to the bathroom again at about 5:00 a.m. and there was more discharge but I still felt fine, so I went back to sleep. By the time I woke up around 7:30 a.m. the discharge had stopped and even though I was feeling contractions, they weren't any worse than the ones I had had all week so I tried to go back to sleep. I could NOT, for the life of me, fall asleep again because all I could think about was getting the kitchen cleaned up and things organized in the nursery. I know, so weird.

I got up, did the dishes, started some laundry and was organizing things in the nursery when Nick walked in and looked at me like I was a crazy person for being up and cleaning at 7:45 on a Sunday (I am not a morning person and will usually sleep late whenever I have the chance). I told him that I was having contractions but that I felt fine and that he should go back to bed. I think he went back to sleep for an hour or two while I kept cleaning. I eventually called the midwife around 10:00 a.m. to get her opinion since I had been having regular, but mild, contractions all morning and they definitely weren't slacking off like they had on previous mornings. She told me that she thought I was probably in early labor but that I could stay home as long as I was comfortable and handling the contractions well and that I may still just be having Braxton Hicks. All we could do was wait and see. If I was in labor, I wanted to stay at home as long as possible so I went to take a shower, get dressed, and try to relax. I had suspected that I was in labor all morning but didn't want to say anything to Nick until I was sure. By the time I got out of the shower, I was pretty sure :) The contractions were getting stronger and were staying regular. I think what I actually told him was, "I think we're at the point where I can safely say that we may be having a baby earlier than we expected." All he said back was, "Really?" and I said, "We'll see.", or something equally noncommittal. He said to just let him know what I needed and/or when I wanted to go to the hospital and I said, "OK, I'm gonna go finish the kitchen". :)

By lunchtime I was still questioning whether it was real labor but I was pretty sure I at least wanted to go to the hospital to have the midwife check me. We had already specified in our birth plan that we wanted to come back home if I was 4 cm dilated or less so we knew that we could come back home if it was still early. I told Nick to go ahead and get showered and to eat lunch so we would be ready to go whenever I felt like we needed to. Nick got ready, I changed clothes, we took our 39 week photo for the blog, and we went outside to sit on the deck and play with the dogs. We even took some time to hang a couple things in the nursery and I got the glue gun out to do some last minute crafting on Ellie the elephant that hangs on the back of his door :) The weather was gorgeous and it didn't feel like February outside at all. The sun was out and it was in the low 70's- perfect weather for having a baby :) By 1:30 or so my contractions had gotten strong enough that I was having trouble talking through them so we snapped a few photos with the dogs (something I had wanted to do before leaving for the hospital- our last days as only "puppy parents") and waited for the feeling my midwife told me to expect. She said, "You'll know when it's time because you will go from comfortable and relaxed to feeling like you need other women around you. Your instincts will kick in and you will all of a sudden want to be around other people." Turns out that she's the director of the practice for a reason ;) She was totally right and by 2:00 I just knew that I wanted to go. We got the bags in the car, put the pups up and gave them a treat, I ate a Kashi bar (since I knew they wouldn't let me eat once they admitted me) and we headed to the hospital. It seems funny now, but all day I kept talking about what was going on like it might not be labor. I had had SO MANY Braxton Hicks contractions for so many weeks that I think I was only going to accept that I was in labor when there was absolutely no doubt. Even in the car on the way to the hospital I said to Nick, "IF I'm in labor..." I have a sneaking suspicion that Nick knew all along that I was definitely in labor and he just let me live in my little bubble of denial :)

about 20 minutes before we left for the hospital

such a gorgeous day!

Buster giving me kisses :) 

last photos with the boys before baby!

When we got the hospital, they checked me in and we met with our nurse. They began all of the "admission stuff" like getting my vitals, checking the baby's vitals and going through the intake questions with me while we waited for Tanya, the midwife on call, to get there to check my progress. We were talking, joking and laughing with Shawna, our nurse, while we got the preliminary stuff done and I changed clothes so that I would be in something more comfortable. By this point we had decided that even if I was under 4 cm, I was going to stay at the hospital because the contractions had gotten strong enough that I was more comfortable being there.

our L&D room.
It was tucked at the end of the hallway so it was quiet and we had a great view of a little garden area :)

waiting for the midwife

our last photo together before becoming parents! 

we wanted a photo of my "alien stomach" with all the monitors attached :)
Once Tanya arrived, we sat and finished the intake questions and went over our birth plan with her. We talked about everything that we felt was really important for our experience and she asked us some questions about pain relief and what we wanted once Alden was born. 

Then it was finally time to check my progress. We were expecting 4-5 cm and were totally shocked when she said 7 cm dilated and 90% effaced! Tanya and Shawna looked at each other and started laughing while Nick and I sat there looking surprised. They were completely amazed at how far along I was- Tanya said that I was smiling way too much to be at 7. Haha! After she checked me she looked at me and said, "You're having a baby tonight!" It was a surreal moment. 

Shawna warned me that once my water broke things would come fast and that since I was already at 7, I was probably pretty close to hitting transition. Around 5:30 my water broke, a minute or so later I threw up and transition came fast and intense almost immediately after that. My contractions got much stronger and I started to have moments where I would "disappear" from the room during the most painful sensations. 

From here on out I really didn't have any sense of time and I still have a warped memory of how long things took. I would labor in a position for what I thought was 15 or 20 minutes but that turned out to be an hour and a half and I have memories of Nick helping me during contractions when it was actually the nurse or midwife. I kind of knew what was going on in the room, at least when it came to how many people were there, and had some sense of conversations happening around me but when a contraction came, I would go somewhere else in my mind and would have no idea what was happening until it was over. I think there came a point when I stopped talking except to say, "water", "that helps", or to ask Tanya a question. 

Nick, Tanya and Shawna were absolutely amazing during the whole process. Tanya would suggest a position for me and then she would instruct Nick in how he could assist me or do something to help relieve the pain. There came a point where I could only manage the contractions if Nick and Tanya kept constant pressure on my hips (called a hip press and advocated by the great Ina May Gaskin-seriously, best thing ever). As the baby moved down and the pressure intensified, the only thing that helped was for someone to push up as hard as they could on my coccyx. I think all three of them shared the massage duties and not one of them complained. Awesome, awesome people! I'm sure that everyone's arms were so tired by the time I started pushing but I really couldn't have gotten through those couple of hours without them. 

After a couple hours in intense labor, I only had a small lip of cervix left and I wasn't able to resist my body's urge to push so Tanya told me I could go ahead and start really pushing while she held the last bit of cervix to make sure it moved. After a couple pushes my cervix was completely open and everyone got ready for me to start the serious pushing. Nick thinks I was pushing for 45 minutes or so, an hour at the most, before Alden was born. This whole phase of labor is a blur for me. I remember what it felt like and I remember Nick being there, I remember Tanya and her encouragement and I remember all of us having our "cocktail party" (apple juice on the rocks) so that we would all have some calories to finish the job :)

Ladies, let me tell ya, if you've ever heard of the ring of fire- it is not a joke. There was quite a while where I think the only thing I said in between screams was that I wanted him out. I was so ready to meet our little boy and it hurt so much, I think at one point I even asked Tanya if she could just pull him out. Haha! I apologized to everyone afterwards for being such a brat about it all and everyone laughed at me and told me that I did great. I'm sure they hear much worse things from women in labor, but I'm not sure all of them apologize after :)

Tanya was amazing- she kept telling me that I was a rockstar and that I was doing everything exactly like my body was supposed to. She reminded me that it was all going to be over soon and helped me find the strength to keep going when I honestly thought I couldn't push anymore. She "taught" me how to use my body to get the most powerful pushes, by curling up over my chest and pushing all my energy out my bottom. She suggested new positions when she saw that I was tiring out or losing steam and she helped Nick support my legs. Really, she was exactly what we imagined our midwife to be and I am so lucky to have had her as a part of my birth story.

And then there's my husband. Oh my, he was INCREDIBLE. He was right next to me the whole time, with encouraging words, supportive hands, and loving eyes. He helped press on my hips during contractions, make sure I was OK when I was throwing up and completely out of it during transition, kept my water close so he could give me a sip between contractions and make sure that I knew I could do it. I think my favorite part of our whole birth experience is that Nick had decided early on that he wanted to catch Alden when he was born. I was so touched and overwhelmed when he first told me he wanted to be the one to deliver him, but I couldn't have imagined how amazing it would feel to know that Nick was the first person to hold him outside the womb. Tanya helped me deliver Alden's head at a controlled pace so that I wouldn't tear and used that time to make sure Nick knew where his hands should be and what to expect after the head was delivered. Even through the craziness of me pushing through those last few pushes, he stayed completely calm and locked eyes with me whenever I looked up to him. When Alden was born, Nick caught him and was the one to place the baby on my chest. We had so much support in the room, but for a moment, it was just me, Nick and Alden. The feeling was absolutely indescribable.

p.s. Nick had one of the worst migraines he has ever had (really, vomiting and everything) the night Alden was born and he completely ignored it so that he could be with me for every minute of my labor. Then, after everything was settled he went home to feed the dogs in the middle of the night, with a migraine. That's why I married him, folks :)

I will never forget how gooey and soft Alden felt on my belly and how he opened his eyes and looked right at me minutes after he was born. I will always remember his first cry and how we were so worried when he stopped crying almost as quickly and just calmly laid there, taking in his surroundings. We thought something was wrong because we had always heard that babies cry so much in the first moments of life. Nothing was wrong and he laid there peacefully until he nursed for the first time. (Another amazing thing, by the way. He found my breast and moved to nurse all by himself, less than an hour after he was born. I knew that babies could do this but that not all of them actually did. So cool.)

Nicholas, you amaze me every day and I am so thankful to have you as my partner in this crazy life. I will never forget the moment we brought our son into the world and I hope it was as overwhelmingly joyful for you as it was for me. I love you.

While Alden was on my chest, the nurses dried him off and left us to meet our son while they helped Tanya deliver the placenta and finish up with me. Alden and I had a few minutes to bond and then Nick cut the umbilical cord and took him over to be weighed. The nurses helped me undress and brought the baby back so we could do skin to skin until I was ready to be moved to recovery. Tanya delivered the placenta and put two stitches in a small tear that I had and before I knew it, we were all getting cleaned up to go to our recovery room.

minutes old

our first family photo :)

Nick cutting the umbilical cord

our sweet boy

first Daddy and Son photo :) 

after a very long day

With our Centering midwife, Susan.
She is such an incredible woman and we are so happy to have had her support throughout the pregnancy and now. 

We had pretty much as close to our ideal birth experience that we could have had and are so thankful that everything went smoothly and that Alden is healthy. We had an amazing experience with everyone from the nurses to the techs that took my vitals. I am incredibly lucky to have so many wonderful people in my life and to have had the support that I was given throughout my pregnancy from family, the midwives and all the support staff at the hospital.

It was a wonderful day and I hope to remember it forever. 

much love, L&N


  1. I'm not gonna lie. I was nervous about reading this...but I teared up. Great story, great writing :), and you're making me want to have one. Thanks for that.

    1. Thanks, Caryn! Haha- you're welcome ;) they are pretty awesome (except for the no sleep thing...)

  2. Awww- you had Tanya deliver Alden? Jealous!! She was our centering group (Nov 2012) midwife, but I don't think anyone in our group had her deliver their baby. Love her- all the midwives are amazing there :)

    1. Emily, she was amazing!! She was actually the only midwife that we hadn't met and she ended up being exactly who we needed :)